Universiteit Leiden

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LUCIS | Literature Series

Persian Diasporic Poetry

Friday 15 November 2019
Day Programme 13.00-17.00 hrs & Evenening Programme 19.00-21.00 hrs
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
003 & 147

The experience of exile is a leitmotiv in Persian poetry. We can find specimens of this topic from the outset of Persian poetry in the ninth century. Exile is a central theme in Persian mystical poetry, in which the expulsion of the human soul from its original abode and longing to return is depicted in spellbinding metaphors and allegories. A famous example is the monumental epic Mathnavī-yi maʿnavī by Jalāl al-Dīn Rumi’s (1207-1273) in which he depicts in 25, 688 couplets how the reed is torn from its reed-bed to form a flute, complaining of the pain of separation. Such strong metaphors are used by Iranians to describe the emotions and experiences of exile. After the 1979 Revolution and the invasion of the Saddam Hussein’s army, which created the longest conventional war of the twentieth century (1980-1988), many writers, poets and intellectuals fled the country. Iranian poets settled in the West and wrote about the feelings of severance from ‘home’ and how they could find solace for their homesickness by writing poetry.

Some Iranians even chose voluntary exile to write about the themes of estrangement, exclusion, and embracing the norms and values of a new ‘homeland.’ A good part of the modern Persian exile poetry depicts anxiety and the fear of being torn apart, of not belonging to any community and being unable to communicate feelings and thoughts. Connected to the theme of exile are moving descriptions of the new environment, as well as the nightmare and memories of the offences and failures of the homeland, and worries about the uncertain future. What is the place of the exile in the new environment? Can s/he be accepted as an integral part of the new ‘homeland,’ or do the exiles destined to always play on one part of the playground and not being allowed to play on the entire field? These and several other questions will be the subject of this scholarly gathering, in which generations of Iranian scholars, poets and writers reflect on the notion of exile.

Day Programme (Lipsius room 003)

Opening by Koushyar Parsi & Asghar Seyed-Gohrab
Koushyar Parsi ناكجا حوالى در (in Persian)
Nasim Khaksar | سعید یوسف شاعری همیشه در راه (in Persian)
Pegah Ahmadi | بیگانه بودن و بیگانه ماندن (in Persian)
Alan Williams | Exile and Absence from the True Homeland The Topos of Exile in Religious Literature
Persian Poetry Recitation
Dinner (only for speakers and invitees)

Evening Program (Lipsius room 147)

Presentation of the book by Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak | Fire of Lilies: Perspectives on Literature and Politics in Modern Iran
Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak | The Mountain Deer Struts On
Asghar Seyed-Gohrab | ‘Cracking the Fragile Cup of the Moon’ Nader Naderpour and the Diaspora’s Destiny
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